Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times
Ten months into his job as president of Microsoft’s $19 billion business division, Stephen Elop has come to some conclusions about his new employer. It is a tenacious company, relentlessly self-critical and full of people who believe their jobs can make a major impact on the world. He expanded on those ideas in front of a Seattle audience this morning.
Elop, who took over from longtime Microsoft exec and now Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes, was speaking at the company’s business intelligence conference at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. (Check out this story for more background on Elop and his approach to the company.)
He described himself as “a relative newcomer,” and shared this set of observations, based on discussions with Microsoft employees, partners and customers.
— Elop said he is impressed with the strength of Microsoft’s partner ecosystem, which he termed “truly unique.” It stems from the talent inside the company as well as the half-million-plus partner organizations galvanized by a “collective belief in the magic of software.”
— He praised Microsoft’s “intellectual integrity.”
“You sit on the outside of Microsoft and you have some perceptions that some things are going well, some things aren’t so good and all that,” Elop said. “And you want to get a sense as to whether, does Microsoft get it? Do they know have a challenge here? They’re doing well there? Do they really embrace that?”
Yes, they do, Elop said. “Within Microsoft the level of honesty and self-criticism is unmatched relative to anywhere I’ve been in the industry. This ensures that everyone at Microsoft is constantly dealing with the challenges. Because, you know what, inside, we’re able to talk about them, confront them and therefore, ultimately, do something about them.”
— He continues to be impressed with the company’s “tenacity.”
“For most of my career, I have been a competitor with Microsoft,” Elop said. “So ‘tenacity’ has a bit of a different edge to it.”
That drew a quiet chuckle from people seated in the audience near me.
Elop cited previous experience at Lotus, Macromedia and Adobe.
“I understand very much what it means when Microsoft says it intends to compete in a particular market. I understand their willingness to compete hard and to invest for the long-term, just keep going and going and going to deliver the solutions that customers are looking for,” he said. “Microsoft is very selective about where it places its bets, but once those bets are placed, we have an unparalleled ability to follow through and deliver on that vision.”
— Elop said Microsoft’s employees have “this incredible shared belief in the opportunity to have impact, the opportunity to positively impact businesses, customers, everywhere in the world, through the magic of software.”
Folding in today’s headlines, Elop said times of disruption offer the best opportunities for impact. “The toughest decisions can be made today, the big moves can be made today.”